1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Labour of love: foster parents are not workers under the Working Time Directive

In a case referred by the Romanian courts, the ECJ has held that foster parents are not workers for the purposes of the Working Time Directive. This makes it more likely that cases currently pending before employment tribunals in the UK on foster parents' entitlement to holiday pay are likely to be unsuccessful.
Read more »
Labour of love: foster parents are not workers under the Working Time Directive

Harassment allegations: the catalyst for Google staff walkout

Thousands of Google staff (employees and contractors) across 50 locations walked out of their jobs on Thursday 1 November in protest at the company’s response to claims of sexual harassment and gender inequality. The demonstrations took place at the company’s offices around the world, beginning at 11.10am in Tokyo before rolling out across Europe and North America, finishing at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The walkout came after it emerged that Google reportedly gave Andy Rubin, a former executive, a US$90 million severance package after he left the company, despite the “credible” sexual misconduct allegations against him. It has also been reported that Andy Rubin is among a number of Google executives who have had allegations of sexual misconduct made against them.

One of the protest organisers summed up the company’s action as “the US$90 million straw that broke the camel’s back”. In the wake of the #metoo movement, recent sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and, more recently, Sir Phillip Green, such a statement resonates with all and is no longer falling on deaf ears. Employees are now finding the courage to speak up on what appears to be a hidden issue in many workplaces.

As such, we recommend employers listen to, and do not ignore or take lightly, allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct. Employers should ensure they have sexual harassment policies in place with clear details of what constitutes sexual harassment and details of the process for reporting it safely and anonymously. This should be coupled with training to ensure all staff understand what constitutes unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. Employers must do all they can to ensure employees are kept safe and must enable employees to speak up on the issue without fear of retaliation.

Harassment allegations: the catalyst for Google staff walkout

Equality – in the headlines

The UK PRM (People, Reward and Mobility) team at Dentons strives to keep you up to date with what's happening in the news that has an impact on you. It was notable that Wednesday's search had a common theme running through the articles. They all related to equality addressing either equal pay or gender diversity.
Read more »
Equality – in the headlines

Employers can be vicariously liable for the violent conduct of their employees outside work

In Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Limited (NRL), the Court of Appeal decided that NRL was liable for its Managing Director drunkenly assaulting another employee at an “impromptu” drinks event after a work Christmas party. There was a sufficient connection between the Managing Director’s employment and the assault. This is an important case for employers to be aware of in the run-up to the Christmas party season.

Facts

Mr Bellman was a Sales Manager at NRL. After the NRL Christmas party, he and a number of colleagues went to a hotel bar for an “impromptu” drink. At the hotel, the employees discussed a work matter. The Managing Director lost his temper and told the employees that it was he who owned the company and made the decisions. Mr Bellman verbally challenged the Managing Director, who punched him twice. As a result of this, Mr Bellman suffered severe brain damage.

Mr Bellman sued NRL for damages, on the basis that NRL was vicariously liable for the assault.

Decision

The High Court dismissed Mr Bellman’s claim, holding that the Managing Director was not acting in the course of his employment when he assaulted Mr Bellman. The drinks were impromptu and each employee had a personal choice as to whether or not to attend. The fact that work topics were discussed at the drinks did not mean that there was a sufficient connection between the Managing Director’s employment and his wrongful conduct in assaulting Mr Bellman.

The Court of Appeal overruled the High Court’s decision, finding that there was a sufficient connection. The Court of Appeal noted that it was important to look at the level of authority of the Managing Director – in this case it was very wide, as he had no set working hours, he controlled the way he worked and he made all management decisions. In the Court of Appeal’s view, at the hotel he had exerted his authority over the employees when telling them that he made the decisions in relation to NRL.

Comment

The outcome of this case turned on its (very specific) facts. The “close connection” test for vicarious liability gives the courts a broad discretion and employers should be aware that they will not always be vicariously liable for the conduct of employees in arguments outside the workplace that relate to work matters. The key differentiating factor in this instance was that the Managing Director had a significant amount of management responsibility and authority which he exerted over the employees at the after party.

As we approach the Christmas party period, employers should remind their employees (and in particular, senior management) about behaving appropriately. This can include communicating with employees about what is expected of them at office parties as well as the policy for coming into work the following day. This will assist in reducing the potential risks that employers face in the festive season.

Employers can be vicariously liable for the violent conduct of their employees outside work

Zero-hours contracts: “flexibility” is not a draw for the majority of workers

A report recently undertaken by three labour market economists has found that 44% of workers on zero-hours contracts would like more working hours. In addition, and in contrast to the "flexibility" argument often put forward in support of the use of zero-hours contracts, only 28% of those surveyed saw flexibility as the basis for entering into one.
Read more »
Zero-hours contracts: “flexibility” is not a draw for the majority of workers

Government publishes LGBT action plan

In July 2017, the government launched a national survey of LGBT people. It received more than 108,000 responses which have been published in the form of a research report and a summary report.
Read more »
Government publishes LGBT action plan

Supreme Court hears Barnardo’s RPI/CPI Appeal

Dentons' Reward team are advising the Representative Beneficiaries of the Barnardo's Staff Pension Scheme ("the Scheme") in an application to the Supreme Court to decide whether the Scheme rules permit a switch from RPI to CPI for revaluation or indexation of pension payments.
Read more »
Supreme Court hears Barnardo’s RPI/CPI Appeal

Home Office publishes details of settlement scheme for EU Citizens:

EU citizens will be able to apply for settled status in 3 easy steps for less than the price of a passport, under plans outlined by the Immigration Minister today. Please see here for further details.

Home Office publishes details of settlement scheme for EU Citizens:

The future of work could mean automation… and “robot tax”!

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) has launched an inquiry into automation and the future of work. The purpose of the inquiry is to consider two points. 1.The inquiry will look at the impact automation will have on UK businesses and the potential it has for productivity, growth and re-industrialisation. It will focus on specific questions about automation such as which sectors are most likely to be affected by automation, and whether businesses receive enough financial support when opting to automate. 2.The inquiry will also look at the impact automation will have on workers. The inquiry will consider what policies and actions should be in place to reskill workers and the role Government should play to support this.
Read more »
The future of work could mean automation… and “robot tax”!

Notice of termination: are you sure your employee has been dismissed?

It is a common misconception amongst employers that notice of dismissal (or in cases where no notice is given, dismissal itself) will take effect on the date the employer writes to the employee to give them notice or inform them of the decision to dismiss. A long line of case law from the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has established that this is not the case. Where, as is often the case, there is no contractual provision dealing with communication of notice, notice (or dismissal) will take effect on the date on which this is communicated to the employee. This means that, where an employer writes to an employee to give notice or inform them of their dismissal, it is only once the employee has personally taken delivery of the letter that the notice (or dismissal) will be deemed to have been received.
Read more »
Notice of termination: are you sure your employee has been dismissed?